The National Safety Council (NSC) found that there were about 36,200 deaths stemming from traffic accidents in 2012, which marks a 5 percent increase over 2011. This is the first time since 2005 the figure has increased, and that has several experts worried about the state of safety on the streets. The Boston Herald reports that the number of accidents requiring some kind of medical care also increased by 5 percent to 3.9 million.
"NSC is greatly concerned with the upswing in traffic fatalities on our nation's roads," said Janet Froetscher, president of the organization. "Although we have improved safety features in vehicles today, we also have new challenges, especially as it related to teen and distracted driving, that need to be addressed on a national scale. We must work together now to reverse this latest trend to prevent needless tragedy."
According to The Washington Post, the total cost of vehicle deaths, injuries and damage in 2012 came up to $276.6 billion. While the bulk of those costs were medical expenses and wage or productivity losses, costs related to property damage and auto repair also comprised a significant chunk.
Part of the reason fatalities may be increasing is because people in the U.S. drove more total miles in 2012. The improving economy gave drivers more spare change to spend on fuel or road trips, which could have encouraged travel.